Porta Metronia Rome

The Porta Metronia is an ancient city gate along the Aurelian Walls in Rome. It is located along the Via dell’Amba Aradam, which leads to Basilica of Saint John In Lateran.

Porta Metronia Rome

History

Porta Metronia Rome
Porta Metronia

The Porta Metronia is probably named for a certain Metrobius, who used to own various properties in the area. Another name it was known by is Porta Gabiusa. This is because the road that used to lead to the ancient Volscian city of Gabii used to start here. This road more or less corresponds to the present Via Gallia.

Initially the Porta Metronia was no more than a so-called posterula, a small secret exit out of the city. This is clear because it was included at the base of a small tower on the inside of the wall. Had it been a real gate, it would have been flanked by defensive towers on each side.

In the 12th century the Porta Metronia was closed. The gate became used for a passage of a marrana, as the Romans called ditches that ran through the city. This ditch started near Grottaferrata and was brought to Rome by Pope Callisto II. A grating was put in front of the passage, so that smugglers could not enter the city.

After flowing through the gate, the ditch continued towards the San Sisto Vecchio Church, and via the Circus Maximus ended in the Tiber. Here, in the area called Cloaca Maxima, it fed 14 water mills.

The ditch created a swampy area outside the gate, which came to be called “il Pantano”. Often the stagnant water was the cause of epidemics. This swampy area was completely filled up in the beginning of the 20th century. The Marrana itself was diverted to end in the river Almone.

Description

Porta Metronia Inscriptions
Inscriptions

The gate itself has been bricked up, but its contours are still visible. It is much lower than the present street level.

On both sides of the Porta Metronia there are two arches. On one side these stem from the fascist period and on the other from the period after the war. They were created to facilitate the flow of traffic.

The two plaques on the inside refer to restoration works in 1157 and in 1579.

The 1157 restoration was carried out by the People and the Senate of Rome. The inscription states the names of the counsillors who had had the work commissioned. In those days the city displayed a strong streak of independence from the church, which is why the Pope is not mentioned in the inscription.

In the 16th century, as the inscription shows, times had changed. Pope Gregorius XIII made sure that everyone knew that it was he who had had the gate fixed out of his own pocket, 421 years after the last restoration.

Porta Metronia, Rome

Porta Latina Rome

The Porta Latina in Rome is located nearby the Terme di Caracalla and the Porta di San Sebastiano. It is named for the street of the same name and is one of the best preserved Roman gates in the Aurelian Walls.

Porta Latina Rome

History

Porta Latina Rome (outside the walls)
Porta Latina from outside the walls.

The Porta Latina is named for the Via Latina, which led from Rome to what is now Capua, but was at the time still called Casilinum. In those days this territory was taken up by the 30 or so villages that were part of the Latin League. This was a confederation, founded to create a protection against common enemies. Initially these enemies were the Etruscans, but later they came to include the Romans. Still later Rome joined the Latin League, then took a dominant role and finally submitted the other villages. In 338 BC the organization was disbanded.

In the Republican Age (509-27 BC) the road started, together with the Old Appian Way, at the Porta Capena. The two roads separated near what is now the Piazzale di Numa Pompilio. The initial name of the street is now Via di Porta Latina. After the gate it becomes Via Latina.

Initially the opening was 6.55 metres tall and 4.20 metres wide. Between 401 and 403 Emperor Honorius had this reduced to 5.65 by 3.73 metres. The outline of the original fornix is still visible. The reduction of the wall was part of a completely restructuring to make it easier to defend the city. Honorius also had the right tower rebuilt and the travertine facade restructured.

In the middle ages the right tower was again restored.

Both in 1576 and in 1656 the gate was closed during an epidemic of the plague.

After the construction of the Via Appia Nuova the gate lost importance.

Until the early 20th century it was only open when there were special events at the San Giovanni a Porta Latina Church. Even when the Italian troops tried to enter the city here in 1870, they ended up having to give up on the attempt. Their brothers in arms at the Porta Pia ended up having more luck, though, which is why Italy now exists.

Description

The two windowless semicircular towers on each side have holes that were to be used by archers. The five openings in the upper part were created during the reign of Honorius.

The keystone of the outer arch has the Constantinian Chi Ro monogram on it. The Greek letters forming this monogram stand for Christ. To the left and right of the monogram the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (alpha and omega) can be seen, symbolizing the beginning and the end.

The Greek cross on the inner side of the arch is also a Christian symbol.

The entrance could be closed off with a hinged gate on the inside and with a portcullis on the outside.

There is a small door behind the western door, which gives access to a walkway and a room with 17th century walls. According to legend the god Saturn hid in this chamber from his son Jupiter after the latter had dethroned him.

Porta Latina, Rome

Ospedale del Celio Rome

What is now the Ospedale del Celio in Rome is built on the area that used to be occupied by the ancient Villa Casali. After the unification of Italy a big part of the villa was ddestroyed to make space for new constructions.

Ospedale del Celio Rome

History

Ospedale del Celio Rome
The interior of the complex in 1915.

The villa started its existence as property of the family Massimo, who later sold it ti the family Teofoli. Later Marquis Mario Casali inherited it from his wife Margherita di Sertorio Teofili.

At the end of the 17th century, the Casali had a house constructed by the architect Tommaso Mattei. They also had an enormous garden laid out.

In those days the main road through the villa faced the Santo Stefano Rotondo Church, while the side roads ended at the apse of the Santi Quattro Coronati Church.

In 1871 the city decided to develop the area. The owners of the land were supposed to build houses and the city would take care of the infrastructure.

Initially most of the villa was saved. However, in 1884, having decided to build a military hospital on its grounds, the city bought everything and five years later completely destroyed it. More than 50000 m² of green area disappeared.

Hospital

The new military hospital was constructed between 1884 and 1889. It was designed by Colonel Luigi Durand de la Penne together with the architect Salvatore Bianchi.

It consists of a series of 30 pavilions, connected by galleries and metal walkways.

Works of  art

Ospedale del Celio Rome - Antinoo Casali
The Antinoo Casali, now in the Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek in Copenhagen.

Of the works of art collected by Cardinal Antonio Casali many were lost. Others ended up in Copenhagen’s Ny Carlsbergh Glyptotek. These include the “Casali Sarcophagus”, the “Antinoo Casali” and a mosaic depicting the “Rape of Europe”.

During excavations for the foundations of the hospital several ancient structures were unearthed.

The Basilica Hilariana was built by the pearl merchant Manius Publicius Hilarus. One of the most interesting finds was a mosaic with a depiction of the evil eye, which can now be viewed in the Antiquario Comunale del Celio. The building consisted of a porticoed courtyard surrounded by various rooms. It was probably used as a sort of temple for the followers of the goddess Cybele, who was know as the Magna Mater (“Great mother”) and was a very important deity in ancient Rome. The base of a statue dedicated to Hilarus himself, was also found in this spot.

Other ruins uneartehd in the area include those of the house of the Simmaci, a senatorial family in the Imperial era.

Ospedale del Celio – Piazza Celimontana 50, Rome

Villa Celimontana Rome

Rome‘s Villa Celimontana, which is located on the western slope of the Celio hill and at only a short distance from the Colosseum, acquired its present name in the year 1925. The park was founded in the year 1580 by the Mattei family.

Continue reading “Villa Celimontana Rome”

Baths of Caracalla Rome

The Baths of Caracalla in Rome are among the most impressive monuments in the Eternal City. The largely well-preserved ruins of these ancient Roman baths are in some spots almost 40 meters high. During the summer months the Baths are used for opera performances. Continue reading “Baths of Caracalla Rome”

San Giovanni a Porta Latina Church Rome

The San Giovanni a Porta Latina Church in Rome is one of the city’s oldest and most picturesque churches. Although originally built in the 5th century, the present look is the fruit of several restorations that have taken place in later years. Thanks to the medieval portico, supported by classical columns, the cute well in the courtyard and the enormous cedar tree providing shade many Romans choose to have their wedding pictures taken at San Giovanni in Porta Latina. Continue reading “San Giovanni a Porta Latina Church Rome”

Santi Giovanni and Paolo Church Rome

The Chiesa dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo al Celio in Rome was built in 398, at the exact spot where the house of Giovanni and Paolo was located. Giovanni and Paolo were two Roman notables who became martyrs in the year 361 through the heathen Emperor Giuliano l’Apostata Continue reading “Santi Giovanni and Paolo Church Rome”

Fontana della Navicella Rome

The Fontana della Navicella (“Fountain of the Small Boat”) can be found on the Via della Navicella in front of the church of Santa Maria in Domnica in the rione Celio in Rome. It was built in 1519 and probably replaced an earlier damaged version.

Fontana della Navicella Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via della Navicella. Opening hours and admission: The Fontana della Navicella can be seen from outside.

History

Fontana della Navicella Rome
Fontana della Navicella

The Fontana della Navicella is thought to have been built in the years 1518-19, based on a project by Sansovino (who was also responsible for restoration of the church).

In 1514 Sansovino had also restored the Santa Maria in Domnica Church.

It is not the first fountain in this spot. Before the present version there used to be a marble boat representing a Roman galley, probably a votive offering to the goddess Isis.

Isis was the protectress of sailors. Probably the ship was found near the Colosseum. According to one theory it was connected to Egyptian sailors passing through Rome and sleeping in the nearby Castro Peregrinorum, a barracks for soldiers not stationed in Rome. Another possibility is that it was placed here by the sailors who took care of the velarium, the great veils protecting the Colosseum from the sun.

Description

From the central part of the boat’s bridge, a jet of water emerges and lands in the basin below. The coat of arms on the foundation is that of Pope Leo X Medici.

The ship is raised on a marble stone and inserted in a quadrangular flowerbed. It is protected by small columns connected by wrought iron chains.

Another fountain in Rome using the boat motif is the Fontana della Barcaccia in the Piazza di Spagna.

Fontana della Navicella – Rome